CoronaCoin: A coronavirus speculative deathwatch cryptocurrency

“CoronaCoin” exists. Some cryptocurrency developers on 4Chan cooked up a digital coin that allows traders to bet on the global coronavirus outbreak, based on how many people become infected and/or die. Read the rest

Ex-Microsoft engineer convicted of 18 felonies after stealing $10M in digital currencies from Microsoft to make extravagant purchases

'Used accounts and passwords of other employees to embezzle digital currency' — DoJ

Drug dealer lost his bitcoin PIN codes... and $60 million

Drug dealer Clifton Collins, 49, invested his earnings in bitcoin, eventually racking up $60 million. For safekeeping, he printed the PIN codes to access his accounts and stored them in a fishing rod case at his house. But after Collins was busted on a weed charge and sent to jail, his landlord had all of Collins's stuff hauled to the dump. From The Guardian:

According to the Irish Times, which first reported the story, workers at the dump told the Irish police force, the gardaí, they remembered seeing discarded fishing gear. Waste from the dump goes to Germany and China to be incinerated. The fishing rod case has never been found.

Collins, 49, has apparently told the gardaí he has come to terms with the loss of the fortune and considers it punishment for his own stupidity.

The high court in Dublin ruled this week that Collins had forfeited the accounts because they were proceeds from crime...

The Criminal Assets Bureau thought it had hit the jackpot when it confiscated the accounts. Authorities hope they may some day access them.

"Irish drug dealer loses £46m bitcoin codes he hid in fishing rod case" (The Guardian)

And in case you missed this excellent tale:

• "‘I Forgot My PIN’: An Epic Tale of Losing $30,000 in Bitcoin" by Mark Frauenfelder Read the rest

IRS erroneously considered Fortnite V-Bucks and Roblox Robux "virtual currencies" subject to taxation

The IRS removed language from their Web site that listed Fortnite V-Bucks and Roblox Robux as examples of convertible virtual currencies, like Bitcoin. They were included on a page about virtual currencies as they relate to a new question on IRS Form 1040 that asks whether the taxpayer, sold, exchanged, or acquired financial interest in any virtual currency. From Bloomberg:

The language was removed hours after Bloomberg Tax asked if gamers who purchased or earned in-game currencies would have to disclose that on their 2019 tax returns.

IRS Chief Counsel Michael Desmond indicated that the inclusion of the video game currencies was a mistake, though he offered no insight on how they ended up alongside Bitcoin on the list of examples.

“It was corrected and that was done quickly—as soon as it was brought to our attention,” Desmond told reporters Thursday at a Tax Council Policy Institute conference in Washington...

Desmond demurred when asked to confirm that gamers wouldn’t need to mark ‘yes’ to the new 1040 question, but said addressing gaming currencies in the virtual currency context isn’t a major focus for the agency right now.

image: Epic Games Read the rest

The bubbles in VR, cryptocurrency and machine learning are all part of the parallel computing bubble

Yesterday's column by John Naughton in the Observer revisited Nathan Myhrvold's 1997 prediction that when Moore's Law runs out -- that is, when processors stop doubling in speed every 18 months through an unbroken string of fundamental breakthroughs -- that programmers would have to return to the old disciplines of writing incredibly efficient code whose main consideration was the limits of the computer that runs on it. Read the rest

Creditors of dead cryptocurrency exec want to exhume his body

When Gerry Cotten, founder of the QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency exchange, died mysteriously in India at the age of 30 he left behind an encrypted laptop with up to $250 million of customer deposits locked up on it. Without a password, those funds are irretrievable (at least until quantum supremacy becomes a real thing). Now, according to Ars Technica, those customers want proof Cotten is really dead -- and not sipping piscines on the deck of a yacht anchored in Gustavia Harbor -- by having his body exhumed and positively identified.

From the article:

Lawyers representing exchange clients on Friday asked Canadian law enforcement officials to exhume his body and conduct an autopsy "to confirm both its identity and the cause of death," the NYT said. The letter cited "the questionable circumstances surrounding Mr. Cotten's death and the significant losses" suffered in the incident. The letter went on to ask that the exhumation and autopsy be completed no later than "spring of 2020, given decomposition concerns."

Quadriga didn't disclose Cotten's death until January 14, in a Facebook post, more than a month after it was said to have occurred. The QuadrigaCX platform went down on January 28, leaving users with no way to withdraw funds they had deposited with the exchange. Clients have taken to social media ever since to claim the death and loss of the password were staged in an attempt to abscond with their digital coin.

Read the rest

Mark Zuckerberg to testify before House Financial Services Committee on Facebook's 'Libra' cryptocurrency

The House Financial Services Committee has asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on Facebook's planned Libra cryptocurrency, and he will do so on October 23. Read the rest

Karl Schroeder's "Stealing Worlds": visionary science fiction of a way through the climate and inequality crises

Karl Schroeder (previously) is literally the most visionary person I know (and I've known him since 1986!): he was the first person to every mention "fractals" to me, then "the internet" and then "the web" -- there is no one, no one in my circle more ahead of more curves, and it shows in his novels and none moreso than Stealing Worlds, his latest, which is a futuristic roadmap to how our present-day politics, economics, technology and society might evolve. Read the rest

Weekend SIM-swapping blitz targets US cryptocurrency holders

SIM swapping attacks involve tricking or bribing a phone company into assigning someone else's phone number to you; once you have the number, you can intercept SMS-based two-factor authentication messages and use them to take over accounts. Read the rest

Study finds 95% of all Bitcoin trading volume is fake, designed to lure in ICOs

A report from Bitwise -- an investment firm lobbying for FEC approval for a cryptocurrency based exchange-traded fund -- found that 95% of the trading volume in Bitcoin was fake, ginned up through techniques like "wash trading" where a person buys and sells an asset at the same time. Read the rest

Bowing to public pressure, Coinbase announces it will "transition out" the ex-Hacking Team cybermercenaries whose company it just bought

The cryptocurrency service Coinbase recently acquired Neutrino, a forensics startup founded by cybermercenaries who were left unemployed by the collapse of the company Hacking Team, following a dump of internal documents that revealed the company's enthusiastic and highly profitable complicity in human rights abuses by the world's most torture- and murder-happy autocrats and dictators. Read the rest

Crypto CEO dies with the password to unlock $200+ million of customers' Bitcoin

"After Gerry’s death, Quadriga’s inventory of cryptocurrency has become unavailable and some of it may be lost," said his widow.

What it's like to be a woman reporter on a cryptocurrency cruise where nearly all the other women are sex-workers

Laurie Penny (previously) got sent on the 2018 CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise -- a four-day cruise filled with "starry-eyed techno-utopians and sketchy-ass crypto-grifters" who solved the fact that there almost no women signed up using the "free market": they paid teen sex workers from Ukraine to ship out with them. Read the rest

Malware vector: become an admin on dormant, widely-used open source projects

Many open source projects attain a level of "maturity" where no one really needs any new features and there aren't a lot of new bugs being found, and the contributors to these projects dwindle, often to a single maintainer who is generally grateful for developers who take an interest in these older projects and offer to share the choresome, intermittent work of keeping the projects alive. Read the rest

Ohio becomes first state to accept bitcoin for tax payments from business owners

Ohio has become the first state to allow businesses to use cryptocurrency – bitcoin, specifically – to pay their taxes. And the state doesn't plan to HODL, either. As soon as they receive it they will sell it off for US dollars. (With bitcoin plummeting over 40% over the last month, their decision not to HODL is a practical one.)

Via Mashable:

According to The Wall Street Journal, businesses can start registering this week on ohiocrypto.com for the chance to pay their taxes in bitcoin. And yes, it's only bitcoin — sorry ether fans.

"Under the leadership of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, taxpayers are able to pay their state business taxes with cryptocurrency for the first time anywhere in America," explains the Ohio crypto website. "Ohio has become the first state in the United States, and one of the first governments in the world, to accept cryptocurrency."

So with bitcoin in a downward spiral and no plans to horde the cryptocurrency in hopes of a longterm gain, why would Ohio accept it in the first place? According to The Wall Street Journal:

The idea to accept the digital currency for taxes came from state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has held the office since 2011 and started taking an interest in bitcoin several years ago. Mr. Mandel, 41 years old, views the new program both as a convenience for filers and an opportunity for “planting a flag” for Ohio in the currency’s adoption.

Image via Pexels Read the rest

My keynote for Ethereum Devcon: without the rule of law, crypto fails

I was one of the keynote speakers at last week's Ethereum Devcon in Prague, where I gave a talk called "Decentralize, Democratize, or Die," about the way that bad tech policy (crypto backdoors, the DMCA's ban on security disclosures, etc) come from weak states where the super-rich get to call the shots, and how things like money-laundering creates these weak states. The core message: if you don't figure out how to make more pluralistic, less plutocratic states, you will never get the kind of information security you need for your blockchain systems to thrive. Read the rest

French spy used darknet to sell access to national mass-surveillance databases

A cop working for the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (the French national domestic surveillance agency) used the darknet marketplace Black Hand to sell access to France's prodigious national surveillance apparatus to criminals: give him a phone number and he'd track its location; give him a name and he'd tell you whether that person was under police investigation and disclose the contents of the associated files; he'd also sell you everything you needed to forge papers and other official documents (he took payment in Bitcoin). Read the rest

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